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Bending the Internet: Russia Catches Up on Internet Control

Jun 22, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Russian riot police restrain a protester at a demonstration in Moscow in May over the Kremlin's decision to ban the messaging app Telegram.

Russian riot police restrain a protester at a demonstration in Moscow in May over the Kremlin's decision to ban the messaging app Telegram.

(VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin's view of the internet has evolved alongside the internet itself. When Putin first came to power at the turn of the century, Russian cyberspace was the Wild West. He didn't try to exert much control over it for the first decade of his rule, and a class of highly proficient programmers and hackers emerged and flourished in the largely lawless environment. But after a string of Western-supported uprisings in nearby former Soviet states, and a wave of mass protests in Russia after the 2011 elections, Putin's perception of the internet changed. In the years since, the Kremlin has been vigilant in monitoring domestic internet use, using some of the same strategies that Iran and China favor....

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